April Snow, Depression, Toil and Loss: Nature in Motion


 

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Outside my upstate New York window this April morning, snow falls swift and persistent through the limbs of a maple tree whose branches already bear scattered, blood-red buds. The locals are complaining about the weather’s bad manners, the interruption of spring.

I come from a place where spring, with its sudden reveal of desert blooms and the intoxicating scent of orange blossoms, serves as an unlikely harbinger of doom: 115° – 120° days, the enforced isolation of air conditioning, the terror of air conditioning going out.

Spring’s false start here last week, the riot of birdsong now silenced, the neighbor’s red pump house with today’s white roof and the trees in soft focus under falling snow, well, nothing poetic to say accept it’s a lovely disruption. A hitch in spring’s giddy-up.

Perhaps depression, injury, final illnesses and all the hopes they dash and promises they break and their consequent inertia are pauses imposed by nature, crevasses in the glacier, impassable rivers, predatory threats from up the food chain. Nothing is predictable. Surety is an illusory coping mechanism.

Anarchist and essayist Paul Goodman writes,

Be patient, do nothing, cease striving. We find this advice disheartening and therefore unfeasible because we forget it is our own inflexible activity that is structuring the reality. We think that if we do not hustle, nothing will happen and we will pine away. But the reality is probably in motion and after a while we might take part in that motion. But one can’t know.

Nature is an anarchist— insurgent, agitating, subversive. Obviously. Snowfall in April, brain chemistry derailing plans, people we love passing over. No matter our striving, this is reality in motion.

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